Music China 2007
(Shanghai, Oct 17-20, 2007)


Not much English is spoken at this show, so Linda was busy most of the time. Here she speaks with a visitor while Gary is available to answer questions.

This year's Shanghai show was very much like last years; fast, busy, exciting, chaotic, and above all, LOUD beyond description.

At this time a year ago I reported that I felt many of the rough edges of this show would be smoothed out as the show matured. If there was any improvement this year, I didn't see it. Despite co-sponsorship by Messe Frankfurt, the Chinese style seems to trump the German influence. Still there is business to be done there, and some of it manages to get done even under these mostly adverse conditions.

Our indispensable interpreter and booth helper, Linda Zheng, joined us again this year and did a wonderful job. Gary Mobley's trade show toughness was put to the test, and he survived to tell the tale.

When I wasn't outside seeking relief from the unbearable volume level in the hall (although true quiet is hard to find anywhere in Shanghai) I could often be found playing banjo with Saga's Tora Bora Boys. We played two sets a day at Saga's booth, and also on the concert stage outdoors. It was fun to introduce so many people to a style of music they may never have heard, or even heard of before. They really seemed to enjoy it.

During the first day a fight broke out among several visitors. I couldn't tell what it was about, but to me it didn't appear to have anything to do with the show itself. It looked like some kind of grudge they already had going. It had the appearance of a hockey brawl, only more genuine. These people were really angry. There were at least a dozen people grappling, punching and kicking, and many more around them pushing and shouting. Although there are hundreds of uniformed security officers on duty, in the narrow aisles it took them a VERY long time to reach the troublemakers and finally remove them from the hall. Meanwhile, the fight persisted intermittently for nearly half an hour. Although the fighting was very close to me at times, it never became necessary to defend myself.

The main activity of the security guards was hassling exhibitors to protect articles from theft. If either Gary or I would put our briefcase down for a minute, a guard would run up and tie it to a table or chair leg with some ribbon. At first they told Gary he could not use his laptop computer at the booth. Well, he sort of needs it. When he persisted, a guard came around and tied it to the table with that same red ribbon. A thief with a pair of scissors would still do OK.

One thing is clearer to me than it was last year: Music China will continue to have its own style. It will not become Frankfurt East, and it will remain a far cry from the well-oiled machine of NAMM. It will remain chaotic, both before and during show days, and at least one of the halls will always be way too loud, because its organizers have shown that they are unwilling to control it.

But this show will also continue to grow in importance, because many in the trade see China as a land of opportunity. Important enough to put up with the negatives? Perhaps. I'll be weighing that decision in the months to come.

Gary and me trying to look like tourists.

Linda Zheng was both our booth helper and our guide to Shanghai. We could not have done the show without her.



The great gypsy guitarist Lulo Reinhardt was on tour in China, and Shubb Capos and Saga musical instruments sponsored a show featuring his jazz quartet at The Melting Pot, a restaurant and bar in Shanghai.

Lulo and his frequent music partner, violinist Daniel Weltlinger from Australia, spent some time at the trade show during three of the four days, as well.

tora bora boys
Also on the bill at the Melting Pot on Friday night was Saga's own bluegrass band, the Tora Bora Boys, and in this case that included me on banjo.


Lulo and Doug

At one point in the evening Lulo and Saga's Doug Martin honored us by using their Shubb capos on a tune. Although capos are almost never used in jazz, they can be, and to good effect. And they weren't just messing around, either. They capoed at the second fret to play the Django Reinhardt classic Manoir Des Mes Reves, also known as Django's Castle.

pictures and wraps from...

2008: Winter NAMM 2008 |
 Winter NAMM 2007 | Musikmesse Frankfurt 2007 | Summer NAMM 2007 (Austin) | Healdsburg Guitar Festival | Music China '07 |
Winter Namm 2006 | Musikmesse Frankfurt 2006 | Summer NAMM 2006 (Austin) | Music China 2006
Winter NAMM 2005 | Summer NAMM 2005 (Indianapolis) | James Burton Guitar Festival 2005 |
2004 and earlier:
Summer NAMM 2004 (Nashville) | Summer NAMM 2003 (Nashville)  | Musikmesse Frankfurt 2003
past Winter NAMM shows |